VERNON - A downtown Vernon shopkeeper has a unique idea to help make things a bit easier for businesses affected by break-ins.
Lindsay James, owner of The Scarlet Studio and Artisan Market on 30 Avenue, was broken into earlier this year, and is aware of several other downtown merchants who found broken doors, shattered glass and missing merchandise when they showed up to work this summer. She knows one local business that’s been broken into three times.
“If I got broken into three times that would be pretty discouraging. You have to keep putting up a new door and new glass,” James says. “It’s getting to the point where we need to do something.”
She’s organized a meeting for Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. at Ratio Coffee for business owners to brainstorm ideas, and will be bringing one of her own.
“I came up with the name Vernon TWB Fund — Together We’re Better,” James says. “I just thought if everyone put in $15 a month, or $180 a year, we could create this fund for hard times.”
If 50 businesses came on board, that would be $9,000 the group could use to help out a store affected by a break-in, or another hardship.
“A TWB member could nominate someone going through a hardship without that person needing to say anything. They wouldn’t have to ask for help.”
In her case, she reported the break-in to the RCMP, but says realistically, they aren’t going to conduct an extensive search for her stolen iPad and merchandise. Instead, she’d like to see the business community step up and band together.
“Sometimes it feels like people wait for the police or someone else to do something, but we can do something,” she says.
The meeting later this month will be an opportunity to discuss everyone’s concerns and ideas, and hear from the Downtown Vernon Association and Community Policing Office, James says.
“My goal is to get together, address our concerns and brainstorm,” James says.
On the security front, the Downtown Vernon Association has a couple initiatives up its sleeve, including a new surveillance program. Executive director Lara Konkin says they secured $11,000 from the city to promote the installation of video surveillance in the downtown core. Through the program, businesses can apply to have 50 per cent of the cost of new or improved video surveillance covered (up to $1,500) by the association.
“We’re hoping to install an additional 20 surveillance cameras in the downtown,” Konkin says. “The only thing we ask is that if the need arises, they provide the footage to any law enforcement that asks for it.”
The association is also working to secure a grant that would be used to hire someone to assess all aspects of safety and security in the downtown core, including vandalism, lighting, graffiti and other issues.
“We are always looking at the number one concerns of the public and our businesses, and safety is always up there,” Konkin says.
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